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Earth is now trapping an ‘unprecedented’ amount of heat, NASA says

By Tik Root – washingtonpost.com
June 17, 2021 at 1:30 a.m. GMT+5:30

The amount of heat Earth traps has roughly doubled since 2005, contributing to more rapidly warming oceans, air and land, according to new research from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented,” said Norman Loeb, a NASA scientist and lead author of the study, which was published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “The Earth is warming faster than expected.”

Using satellite data, researchers measured what is known as Earth’s energy imbalance — the difference between how much energy the planet absorbs from the sun, and how much it’s able to shed, or radiate back out into space.

When there is a positive imbalance — Earth absorbing more heat than it is losing — it is a first step toward global warming, said Stuart Evans, a climate scientist at the University at Buffalo. “It’s a sign the Earth is gaining energy.”

Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world

That imbalance roughly doubled between 2005 and 2019, the study found. “It is a massive amount of energy,” said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and co-author of the study. Johnson said the energy increase is equivalent to four detonations per second of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, or every person on Earth using 20 electric tea kettles at once. “It’s such a hard number to get your mind around.”

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Chandana Sesath Jayakody

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